The future of the government security clearance program

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Beth McGrath, managing director of Deloitte Consulting and David Berteau, president & CEO of the Professional Services Council, discuss the plan to move background investigations from the Office of Personnel Management to the Defense Department, and what that means for agencies.


The Office of the Director of National Intelligence says that they’re working on a plan to streamline the security clearance process for implementation in 2019. Sources tell Federal News Radio that the Trump administration is considering moving the background check system from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense via executive order. Beth McGrath, managing director of Deloitte Consulting, said that there are a few ‘pain points’ in this plan.

 

“It is important to recognize that there are three facets of this conversation; one is about transitioning and transferring the work from OPM to the Defense Department. The other is the overhaul or transformation of the process itself, and the third is the reduction and eventual elimination of the backlog,” said McGrath. “When you talk about pain points, it needs to be discussed in those three areas.”

 

According to David Berteau, President & CEO of the Professional Services Council, moving investigations to the Defense department could pose a few problems for other agencies.

 

“Keep in mind, with background investigations, we’re focusing primarily on security clearance. But there are hundreds of thousands of cases in the backlog that are suitability determinations, fitness determinations, about eligibility to be in a government role as a contractor or employee that aren’t really a clearance,” said Berteau. “Those are part of the package as well, Mostly those aren’t used by the Defense Department. They’re used by the civilian agencies.”